Story by Bryan Gatchell on 11/11/2018FORT BENNING, Ga. (Nov. 11, 2018) Broadcasting live from Fort Benning, Georgia, the Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fox NFL Sunday celebrated Veterans Day and the centennial of Armistice Day with Soldiers and their Families at York Field in front of the Headquarters Building Nov. 11.
The Fox NFL Sunday team co-hosts Curt Menefee and Terry Bradshaw and analysts Howie Long, Michael Strahan and Jimmy Johnson and sportswriter Jay Glazer had their studio set up with Soldiers and their helicopters and armored vehicles set up behind them.
They taped the pre-game, halftime and post-game shows there, performed with football skirmishes with the Soldiers there, tossed footballs to the Soldiers, and took photos with the Soldiers and Families.
The hosts and analysts talked up several football games, including the Cincinnati Bengals hosting the New Orleans Saints, the Cleveland Browns hosting the Atlanta Falcons, and the Chicago Bears hosting the Detroit Lions.
They were also joined by the Fox NFL Kickoff program with host Charissa Thompson and analysts Michael Vick, Dave Wannstedt, Tony Gonzalez and Peter Schrager, who not only talked up the forthcoming slate of games, but also talked about Fort Benning and its 100-year history.
The Veterans Day / Armistice Day event is the final in a series of celebrations of Fort Benning's Centennial. The Army founded Camp Benning in 1918 as the home of the U.S. Army Infantry School after the members of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce petitioned officials in Washington during World War I. Shortly thereafter, Nov. 11, 1918, the war ended, but Fort Benning continued to prepare Soldiers for combat and to modernize the Army.
"It's very humbling to be here and see the immense scope of this base in person really is awe-inspiring," said Thompson of her visit. "What a weekend this has been, to be here with the amazing Soldiers we have met and their Families!"
Wannstedt, formerly a coach of the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins, recounted how his father was an Infantry Soldier who had served during World War II.
"Yesterday, Mike (Michael Vick) and Peter (Schlager) and I were on our tour, and we see the house on the base where General Patton stayed, it brought it really close to home for me," said Wannstedt.
The Soldiers there for the broadcast cheered and clapped for the cameras. The Maneuver Center of Excellence Band played "The Star-Spangled Banner" and other musical pieces.
Between the live portions of the broadcast, the producers played several pre-taped segments, including one about the mission of Fort Benning.
"Fort Benning has a very, very important mission for the Army," said Brito in a video for the "Kickoff" program. "We train Soldiers, develop leaders and help modernize the force.
"The primary mission hasn't changed, and that's to support readiness," continued Brito, "and the uniforms may be different, the boots may be different, but that young Soldier decides to serve and take that oath, they are doing something very important for the country, and I know that they'll continue to in the future."
Over the weekend, the crews took tours of Fort Benning. Long, Johnson, Strahan, Menefee and Bradshaw served food to Soldiers at Kouma Dining Facility at Harmony Church and ate with and visited with Soldiers of the 194th Armored Brigade. The crew also visited the National Infantry Museum, which tells the history of the Infantry Soldier. The crew of former professional football players and coaches also taught several pointers to the Fort Benning Bengals, a team of Fort Benning middle school students, at the historic Doughboy Stadium on post.
Furthermore, Thompson and Gonzalez performed a tandem jump with the U.S. Army Parachute Team, also known as the Golden Knights, who are based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The Fox NFL Kickoff team also broadcast a pre-taped video segment on Pittsburgh Steelers tackler Alejandro Villanueva, who before his football career was an Infantry Soldier and Ranger. He was deployed three times to Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, and to the 1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia, but he was trained at Fort Benning at the Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course.
"The main value that you learn in the military is the fact that there is always going to be somebody who is braver than you, someone who is willing to sacrifice a lot more, and you sort of have to humble yourself," said Villanueva in the video. "Something that I've tried to bring to the NFL is the sense that you have to be a quiet professional, and a lot of it has to do with culture and the expectation that you're supposed to do your job every single day."
In addition to the television shows being broadcast, the entire event was conducted as a giant "tailgate" party, where U.S. Army units set up tents and displays and held a cookout. The different units were in competition with one another and judges determined the best tailgate based on units' dcor, how well they wore their uniforms, and their esprit-de-corps, according to Col. Clinton W. Cox, garrison commander. The 198th Infantry Brigade had static displays of their mortars and machine guns. The Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade had a raft and a stuffed alligator, "Big John," on display, emblematic of the Florida-based swamp phase of their Ranger training. Ultimately, however Cox announced the winners as the 316th Cavalry Brigade, who had their Humvee and other equipment set out.
"There's nothing we enjoy more than going around the country and seeing all of the wonderful men and women in our Armed Forces all the great Soldiers out there," said Bradshaw, as the Halftime Report concluded. "We appreciate each and every one of you. God bless!"
To see more photos of the Veterans Day event, visit www.fortbenningphotos.com/Ceremonies-and-Events/Historic-or-Significant-Events/2018-11-10-FOX-Sports-NFL-Sunday-Veterans-Day-Salute or https://www.fortbenningphotos.com/Ceremonies-and-Events/Historic-or-Significant-Events/2018-11-11-NFL-Sunday-FOX-Sports-Live.
To see more photos of the events leading up to Veterans Day, visit www.fortbenningphotos.com/Ceremonies-and-Events/Historic-or-Significant-Events/2018-11-10-FOX-Sports-NFL-Sunday-Veterans-Day-Salute.